The curry puff makes a grand appearance, immaculately stacked, on a serving platter. This humble pastry eaten throughout the day – be it at breakfast, as a snack after lunch or for tea – has long secured its position as one of Malaysia’s favorite pastries.
Take a bite of this golden, fried pocket of dough; its light and crispy pastry crumbles to reveal a dense, savory filling. It is that unmistakable combination of spicy, curried stuffing, sealed with a buttery pastry that makes the curry puff a culinary treasure; and such a sought-after snack, produced in countless household kitchens and savored in street stalls and hawker centers around the city, some of which have been around for many years.
Everyone lays claim to the curry puff. Its shape and structure, though, points to origins in the British Cornish pastry. Some attribute its ancestry to the Portuguese empanada or the Indian samosa. Its curried filling has an obvious Indian connection; expect a cross between a samosa and a Cornish pastry! The curry puff has been embraced by most cultures around South East Asia, popping up in street corners, markets and bakeries as a cheap snack in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Each culture puts their own spin on it. The Malays call it ‘karipap’; the Thais, ‘kari puff’. Call it anyhow you want, the curry puff is downright delicious. There are all sorts of fillings, traditional and inventive. Imagine a flavorful stir fry of finely-chopped curried chicken, beef or mutton with potatoes and onion; spicy sardine, prawn or mackerel; some come garnished with a hardboiled egg, which is divine; and others with sweet yam or custard.
Potatoes make up the base of the traditional, savory filling, binding the mixture well. Curry puffs can be made in half-moon shape or the distinctively spiral form. The filling is always cooked separately before being stuffed into the pastry dough and deep fried to perfection. Curry puffs in Malaysia have evolved over time, not just in their filling but also size wise. These days you can find Karipap Raksasa or Giant Curry Puffs, which are double the size of regular curry puffs. One’s palette just does not tire of them.
Who does it best: Kampong Kravers
Kampong Kravers, established in 2009, is a much-loved and popular brand in the local market. They make curry puffs in assorted flavors from age-old family recipes passed down through the generations. Kampong Kravers places strong emphasis on the quality of their products, using only the freshest of ingredients (herbs and spices), and their recipes are free of trans-fat and cholesterol, preservatives and artificial flavoring. What ultimately makes their puff ideal is that each puff is hand-rolled and crimped by hand in small batches. Then, each puff is stuffed generously before oven baked or deep fried to create that crispy, flaky pastry shell, concealing a rich filling.